Two of Charleston’s projected top runners struggled with injuries last season.
Ila Richter had qualified for the unofficial state series as a sophomore but a leg injury during a skiing trip forced her to miss track season and summer running.
Hadley Webb, an IESA state qualifier, missed part of her freshman year and also was not ready.
That allowed Whitley Wood to break out during her junior year and help Charleston qualify for the IHSA Sectional. She consistently placed among the top 20 in larger meets.
“I think our team has certainly grown,” said Wood. “We have two of our girls completely rid of their injuries from last year. We have an incoming freshman that has shown lots of potential already. Our team is looking great so far.”
With a healthy team, Charleston should improve from its last-place finish at the Apollo Conference. Wood said that most of the team has been getting back since July.
“Summer running is going well,” said Wood. “Most of us are either coming back from track season after a break or completely starting over with training after a long break since the last cross country season. I’m not sure yet as to if I have improved because I’m still just getting into it.”
Wood consistently ran around 21 minutes last season with a personal best of 20 minutes, 15 seconds at the Decatur Quad meet. Wood said that her perfect season would mean running in the 19s.
“My goal for this season is to, first of all, enjoy my last season of high school cross country and have fun with my team,” said Wood. “As well as improve my time. I’m really wanting to get in the nineteens.”
Wood will join Richter as the two senior leaders. Both have run at the sectional the past two years and would like to close out their career running in Decatur for the third time.
“I think I speak for my whole team when I say that we would love to go back to sectionals,” said Wood. “I would say it’s our overall goal for the season. I’m hoping this year that we can have a solid top 5 that are really close in time. I think that it makes meets more fun and interesting when you can run in a pack with your teammates. We can all push each other to run our best.”